Updated June 2019
Q: What are the wider environmental considerations of plastic bottles versus aluminum cans?
Greenpeace want producers to use more cans and fewer bottles. They lobby Coca Cola to reduce their plastic, and there is evidence that Coca Cola’s customers prefer the experience of drinking out of a can rather than a bottle. However, bottles and larger servings are more profitable, so plastic use is growing every year.
When we consulted with them, Greenpeace said that cans recycle much more efficiently and do not degrade in oceans or waterways.
Greenpeace and some of our customers are asking for alternatives to help reduce their plastic usage, so we listened, and have launched the RightWater can to offer that.
RightWater is offering a choice for American consumers to hydrate themselves while hydrating others.
If you want to enjoy water on the go, we believe that both the water and the vessel in which it’s contained should carry a responsibility to the men, women and children who live and die in our world with no access to clean drinking water. We spend $500 billion annually on drinks we don’t need, yet the world’s water crisis would cost $30 billion to solve. We believe the answer to solving the world’s water crisis lies between those numbers.
On the packaging side, if we as consumers want to enjoy single-serve drinks, and retailers want to profit from them, everybody must have the chance to recycle responsibly. It’s our job as manufacturers to promote and support that goal in whatever we do.
Our customers want plastic-free solutions, and they want to take responsibility for their plastic consumption and closed-loop recycling. They also want to help people get clean drinking water. We aren’t inventing the packaging or inventing the demand, but we are doing everything we can to act responsibly. Big companies like Coca Cole, Nestle and Pepsi sells billions of these packages a day and they aren’t helping anyone but their shareholders, and hurting a great many people and causing irreversible damage. The wider responsibility for better industry practices lies with them.
RightWater can’t solve the world’s water crisis, but if the large drinks companies work with us, together we can. We are here to influence this industry and get companies to take responsibility for their business and social practices. The more support we get, the easier it will be to influence them.
Q: The can is still a single-use product, just like plastic bottles. Isn’t manufacturing single-serve water encouraging environmentally damaging consumer habits when we should encourage refillable containers?
Of course tap and refillable solutions are preferable, but these aren’t always available. If they aren’t available, should consumers’ only choice be unhealthy soda drinks produced by greedy corporations? Water is the healthiest drink available, it uses the least water to produce, it uses the lightest packaging. We’re proud to give consumers the choice of drinking single serve spring water that actually helps people and serves a purpose to the world, rather than only having the option of sugary or chemical-laden drinks that line shareholders’ pockets and rots consumers’ teeth.
Q: Do you support people carrying containers and refilling their water from taps?
Absolutely! Beyond that though, we support people being woke about water.
Nothing lives without water. Nothing. Yet 800 million people don’t have any access. As a planet, as countries and as individuals we do not respect or treat water like our lives depend on it.
There is exactly the same amount of water in our atmosphere as there was when it was first formed billions of years ago. We drink the same water as the dinosaurs. We can’t make any more water and haven’t seen evidence of water on any other planets. Yet, we are losing billions of gallons of drinking water a year as ice melts into seawater, and we contaminate our clean water through agriculture and bad industrial practices. We don’t efficiently manage our municipal water supplies or waterways.
If you aren’t worried about water, you should be, because you can’t live three days without it. It’s that fragile, and yet we are bottling water in countries like Fiji and shipping it thousands of miles overseas to sell it to film stars who want to feel special. We are the anti-Fiji. If you want to drink water on the go, then enjoy a locally and responsibly sourced water, that uses lightweight packaging and helps someone who doesn’t have water. Even though we’re both selling single serve water, we couldn’t be more different.
RightWater hasn’t invented the cans, or the bottles, or the demand. We want to create credible ethical competition to companies like Coca Cola, Nestle, Pepsi, Fiji and Danone and show them, and consumers and shareholders, there is another way.
These huge companies are producing so much plastic (much of which ends up in our oceans); they are taking so much fresh water from our local resources; and yet are still dominating the market. We think they can do more. It can feel like corporations have all the power, but really consumers dictate and can tell companies what to do with their profits and practices.
Q. What does “responsibly sourced spring water” mean?
“Responsibly sourced spring water” is all about balance. When sourcing a naturally occurring resource like spring water, we think it’s important to put multiple social and environmental factors first, rather than just making the best deal for ourselves as a business.
As you may know, the majority of US bottled water brands contain filtered tap water – even some of the higher end brands, who add in cheap additive minerals to bolster the health claims, are using tap water as their basis.
RightWater is always 100% natural spring water. We source from one of three protected springs in California. We never ship our water in from overseas, because of the environmental impact – the reason we have three options is to give us the flexibility required to uphold our duty to source responsibly. For example, if there is a wildfire or natural disasters in the vicinity of one of our springs, their local community may need the water more than us on a given week. We feel it is important to never take water from a Californian community which is dealing with droughts or water shortages. To ensure this, we have personal relationships with the spring owners (one in Baxter CA, another in Adobe Springs CA, and a third in Palomar Mountain CA) and source each delivery based on the factors above.
The mineral content of this spring water varies slightly in levels of magnesium and calcium, but are all completely free of nitrates (a typical sign of agricultural contamination – our nitrate level is the lowest on the market) and are also always UV treated to ensure complete purity. The taste is incredible! We have numerous customers saying that it’s some of the best water they’ve ever tasted.
Finally, the water is brought to our micro-canning facility by a family-owned and fully licensed water hauling company, who only haul drinking water. There, it’s offloaded into our BPA free tanks and fed into our line through BPA free hoses. Again, that equipment was a lot more expensive to buy than some of the BPA alternatives, but we’re trying to hold ourselves to a higher standard: when we say ‘BPA free’, we really mean it.
Q. Can aluminum end up in the oceans like plastic?
If it does, it it won’t degrade or contaminate the ocean, unlike plastics which break down into a harmful microplastic ‘soup’. But generally, almost all aluminum gets recycled. It’s much cheaper to recycle a can of aluminum than it is to create a new one. Conversely, it’s far cheaper to produce a new plastic bottle than to recycle one (and plastic bottles cannot be reused to make another transparent plastic bottle without adding some ‘virgin’ plastic. That’s why plastic is never truly a closed loop or circular economy, unlike aluminum.
Q. What is a closed loop?
The term “close the loop” is tossed around a lot in the green sphere. But what does the expression really mean? Closed-loop recycling is basically a production process in which post-consumer waste is collected, recycled and used to make new products. For the closed-loop system to function properly, consumers, recyclers and manufacturers must work together to reclaim valuable materials from our waste stream and use them to make new products. There are three steps required to truly ‘close the loop’:
1. Collection: The first step in the closed-loop recycling system is collection. To put it simply, collection is when consumers toss recyclable products into their curbside bins or take them to a local drop-off center. Collected materials are processed at recycling facilities and prepared to be sold to manufacturers.
2. Manufacturing: Manufacturing recycled materials into new products is the second step of the closed-loop system. Manufacturing plants create new products from recycled goods and ship them to retailers to be sold as new items.
3. Purchasing: The third and possibly most important step in the closed-loop system is when you, the consumer, purchase products made from recycled materials. When consumers purchase recycled-content products, they essentially “close the loop.”
Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely — meaning an aluminum can is able to cycle through the “closed loop” thousands of times, as long as it’s continually recycled along the way.
The concept virtually eliminates the need for virgin materials. Using recycled materials also saves loads of money, energy and other resources when compared to virgin materials, making it even more appealing for manufacturers to choose recycled.
For example, it takes 95 percent less energy to make a can from recycled aluminum compared to virgin metals. So, doing their part to close the loop is not only an act of goodwill on the part of manufacturers, it also makes economic sense.
Q: I’ve heard that there’s a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s. Is this true?
No. There are no proven medical links to Alzheimer’s with aluminum exposure.
Aluminum is the third-most abundant element after oxygen and silicon in the Earth’s crust. It is widely used in many manufacturing processes and in the soft drinks industry. The biggest users, however, of aluminum metal and its alloys are the transportation, building and construction, packaging and in electrical equipment industries. Transportation is actually one of the fastest growing areas for aluminum use. Aluminum powders are used in pigments and paints, fuel additives, explosives and propellants.
Aluminium oxides are used as food additives and in the manufacture of abrasives, refractories, ceramics, electrical insulators, catalysts, paper, spark plugs, light bulbs, artificial gems, alloys, glass and heat-resistant fibers. Aluminum hydroxide is used widely in pharmaceutical and personal care products. Food-related uses of aluminum compounds include preservatives, fillers, coloring agents, anti-caking agents, emulsifiers and baking powders; soy-based infant formula can contain aluminum. Natural aluminum minerals especially bentonite and zeolite are used in water purification, sugar refining, brewing and paper industries.
We’ll let the experts at the Alzheimer’s Association have the final word: “Studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research.”
Q: How can you be sure there is no BPA? Which other cans still use BPA?
Most other can producers use a BPA resin to line their cans (over 95% of can manufacturers). The lining in our cans is slightly more expensive but does not contain BPA. Our factory is also BPA free, including BPA free tanks and BPA free hoses. Again, that equipment was a lot more expensive to buy than some of the BPA alternatives, but we’re trying to hold ourselves to a higher standard: when we say ‘BPA free’, we really mean it.
Q: What does BPA stand for, and what is it?
BPA stands for bisphenol A. It is a harmful chemical linked to reproductive abnormalities found in food and drink containers, including water bottles and cans [https://www.food.gov.uk/science/bpa/foodcontactmaterialsbpafaq]. This is a concern because the chemical can dissolve into the food and drink inside containers.
Many common and popular drinks brands still use cans that contain BPA. However, we ensure all our cans are BPA-free because there is a large and growing body of scientific evidence on the harmful effects of BPA. This practice is not industry standard, with market leaders offering aluminum that is BPA-exposed. Coca Cola cans are lined with BPA resin and the company defends it on the back of ‘their research scientists and independent scientists’ (http://www.coca-colacompany.com/contact-us/faqs), but this conflicts with the majority of scientific opinion and the rulings of many regulatory bodies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded BPA is bad for humans and causes many adverse symptoms, but has not established dangerous doses for adults yet. The FDA has banned BPA in baby products and is still researching the dangers to adults in small doses, although it is proposing action. Meanwhile, the European Food Safety Authority has ordered a reduction in the tolerable daily limit of BPA, while in France the national agency for food, environmental and occupational health has completely banned the use of BPA in packaging that comes into contact with food.
Q: Where does the aluminum used to make the RightWater can come from? Can you trace where it has been mined?
We are working with some of the world’s largest producers of aluminum, and they take great pride in their sourcing practices. It’s our job to manage the traceability and ensure fair practices are adhered to at all times. We are committed to influencing the industry from the inside, and our presence ensures that at least one customer will always fight for the right things. As we grow, we will be able to influence this market even more. We hope we will inspire the industry to be BPA-free within two years.
Q: Doesn’t the drink get tainted and taste of metal?
No. Our RightWater cans are 100% sealed from light and air, and stay fresh for longer than any other type of liquids container on the consumer market.
Q: Why produce the RightWater can now? Why not a year ago?
We have been listening to our customers who started asking for a plastic-free solution. After months of research and development, having taken considerable risks for a small company, now with the support of Greenpeace and some initial forward-thinking customers, we are here with America’s only truly zero-plastic, single-serve, spring water. It also happens to help communities get access to clean water for the first time.
Q: Can you refill the cans?
Like any standard can, they can be refilled from a tap, but there’s no resealing option. We don’t recommended refilling if they not properly cleaned, like any reusable vessel.
Q: Can you seal up the cans to finish drinking the water at a later time? What if you don’t want to drink the whole can in one go?
No, if you want zero-plastic these are the dynamics. There are some resealable cans on the market today, but if you want a reliable seal, you need to use single use plastic which we simply refuse to do. But it doesn’t seem a problem for the beer and soft drink companies!
Q. What do the cans cost?
You can buy a case of 20 cans with two free metal straws on our website for $30, including free delivery to the lower 48 states.
Wholesale customers can purchase a pallet of cans (100 cases of 24 cans, wrapped in biodegradable pallet wrap, weighing 2,000 lbs and measuring 48″ x 40″ x 60″) at a rate competitive with other premium water brands, with delivery included anywhere in the lower 48 states. Please contact cans@drinkRightWater.com for pricing.
There are additional cost efficiencies for customers purchasing a full truckload.
Please note – contact cans@drinkRightWater.com if you are a wholesale customer in the Los Angeles area, as we may be able to deliver less than a pallet to customers in this area.
Q: Will the cans be available in any grocery stores soon?
RightWater cans will be available in June to all stores, large and small, who are interested in offering a zero-plastic American spring water option. They will also be available direct on our website, and through many leading ethical and sustainable retailers throughout the US.